Frank Lampard says Chelsea are still helping Kai Havertz adjust to the pace of the Premier League following the midfielder’s recovery from a severe case of Covid-19.
A variety of factors have prevented Havertz, who has scored one league goal this season, from shining since his £62m move from Bayer Leverkusen in September. The German had little time to settle in England following a protracted transfer and although he has shown flashes of class at times, his progress stalled when he tested positive for coronavirus in November.
It was a tough moment for a young talent who was yet to find his feet in a new country. Havertz, who has started on the bench in Chelsea’s past three games, was laid low by the disease and Lampard makes allowance when he assesses the 21-year-old’s performances. “Moving country and missing pre-season, Kai had eight days with us, five work days before he played,” Chelsea’s manager said before hosting Manchester Cityon Sunday. “That is just not beneficial for a player in any league, let alone when you are coming into the fastest, most physical league in the world. Just as Kai was just coming to terms with it he got Covid. He had Covid quite severely.
“He definitely has had a bit of a fallout with that physically. It’s something we are trying to help him to deal with. The expectation around him – you have to put context into the story. Kai’s talent is undoubted. Giving him the time to adapt is crucial.”
Lampard said some players have shown no ill-effects after recovering from the virus, revealing the Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso made a swift recovery after testing positive. Havertz has not been as fortunate, which gives some context to his inconsistent form.
Chelsea, who have lost three of their past five games, are ready to be patient after a sizeable investment. Conscious that Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah went on to flourish at City and Liverpool respectively after leaving Chelsea, Lampard is fully behind Havertz. He has offered similar backing to the German’s compatriot, Timo Werner.
“We have seen players come here in the past, didn’t really adapt, went elsewhere and come back to the Premier League and absolutely lit it up to unbelievable levels,” Lampard said. “We need to give him that time, particularly because of the Covid situation. That is not a non-issue, it is an issue that is related beyond his illness. I am there to help him.”
The relentless schedule has also made it difficult for Lampard to instil his ideas in training. But with the next fortnight free of midweek assignments, Lampard has a chance to plan. Chelsea’s next game, at home to Morecambe in the third round of the FA Cup next Sunday, is in doubt due to a Covid outbreak at the League Two club. If the tie is called off Chelsea will not play again until visiting Fulham on 15 January.
“It does give us a real opportunity to get on the training ground because if I had it my way and we had a four-week pre-season, the physical work we would have done with the new players would have gone to a really good place [where] you’d hope to start the season,” Lampard said.
“We missed it. Every individual missed it, so for the newer individuals coming into the club it’s even more critical. If we can get in two, three, four sessions over those two weeks then it’s going to be beneficial. Not just for Kai but for the whole squad.”
Lampard has repeatedly played down any title talk. He is thinking long-term. “I do know from playing what it took to win a title,” he said. “I look round the teams that have squads full of title winners.
“Everyone points towards our chequebook, I look around at the teams who have spent as much money, if not more over the last two or three windows.
“We’ve just bought people into the team. They don’t just drop in and ‘OK, everything’s perfect’. I really believe in this team over the longer term, but I definitely felt there was a process and that’s why I talked it down.”